Academy Participants Examine Strategies to Strengthen Governing Board Policies and Practices

Presenter stands in front of seated participants
CIC’s 2020 Presidents Governance Academy was facilitated by Richard T. (Tom) Ingram, senior advisor for president-board relations, CIC, and president emeritus, Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges; and (pictured, standing) Richard J. Cook, president emeritus, Allegheny College (PA).

Twenty presidents participated in CIC’s 2020 Presidents Governance Academy, held January 3–4, just prior to the Presidents Institute. With this seventh Academy, more than 100 CIC member presidents have explored strategies to strengthen trustees’ policies and practices.

Participants considered how presidents must lead trustees’ education, how certain governance policies and practices can affect board conduct, and how a president and board leadership can work together to implement change. Discussion focused on topics such as the characteristics of high-performing boards, the structure of effective committees, the importance of new-trustee orientation programs, how to design effective meeting agendas, and how to develop trustee, board, and presidential performance reviews. Participants also explored trustee philanthropy, shared governance, and state-of-the-art bylaws.

Participants engaged in small and large group discussions, role plays, and a structured bylaw peer-review process, all under the direction of two experienced facilitators.

Participant Bobby Hall, president of Wayland Baptist University (TX), remarked: “The Academy delivered as promised with meaningful presentations from individuals possessing deep knowledge and experience in governance—true thought leaders in the field. I benefited not only from their presentations but also from the small-group atmosphere and discussions with fellow presidents facing similar issues. It was truly a personalized learning experience that sparked new ideas that are already improving our board and its performance.”

Academy facilitators Richard (Tom) Ingram, CIC senior adviser for president-board relations, and president emeritus of the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges, and Richard J. Cook, president emeritus of Allegheny College (PA), encouraged participants to learn about best practices in the field and to consider any changes in the context of their institution and its board of trustees when reviewing institutional governance.

The Academy focused heavily on the substance of board bylaws, including whether they are in tune with contemporary best policies and practices of board organization and conduct. Ingram noted, “Substantial bylaw revision, where needed and when the board is engaged in the process, provides superb opportunities to enable boards to renew their commitment and effectiveness. Presidents should take the lead on this important initiative as part of trustee education and board development.” Each president left the Academy with two critiques of his or her institution’s board bylaws—one written by an Academy facilitator and another written by a participating president.

The 2020 Presidents Governance Academy was supported by a grant from the Henry Luce Foundation. CIC is developing plans for the 2021 Academy with information to be available in early August.

View additional information about the 2020 program.

2020 Presidents Governance Academy Participants

Ancilla College (IN)
Michele Dvorak, President

Birmingham-Southern College (AL)
Daniel Coleman, President

Centenary College of Louisiana (LA)
Christopher L. Holoman, President

Clarke University (VA)
Thom D. Chesney, President

Elms College (MA)
Harry E. Dumay, President

Greenville University (IL)
Ivan L. Filby, President

Holy Family University (PA)
Maureen McGarrity, President

Holy Names University (CA)
Michael Groener, President

Linfield College (OR)
Thomas L. Hellie, President Emeritus

Manhattan School of Music (NY)
James Gandre, President
Mills College (CA)
Elizabeth L. Hillman, President

Morris College (SC)
Leroy Staggers, President

Nebraska Methodist College (NE)
Deb Carlson, President

New England College (NH)
Michele D. Perkins, President

Shaw University (NC)
Paulette R. Dillard, President

Simpson University (CA)
Norman D. Hall, President

Union College (KY)
Marcia A. Hawkins, President

Wayland Baptist University (TX)
Bobby L. Hall, President

Westminster College (UT)
Bethami Dobkin, President

Whitman College (WA)
Kathleen M. Murray, President